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Hawks and ’Canes fall in finals

The volleyball season came to a close last week for city teams, as Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic both lost in the District 11 championships of their respective classes.

The Hurricanes fell to mighty Parkland in a 3-0 sweep in class 4A, as the Trojans (22-0) won their 10th straight district championship.

It’s back-to-back seasons Liberty has reached the championship, only to fall to Parkland.

“Parkland has so much experience in those big matches,” said Liberty head coach Connor Swigart. “Every girl on that team has played in several championship matches and it is second nature to them. That is a huge credit to their coaching staff for getting them ready for those matches. I need to do a better job of having our girls ready to follow our game plan in those matches. We will continue to grow and keep earning chances to play in those championship matches.”

Liberty (18-4) has grown into one of the area’s best programs under Swigart, but the ‘Canes, just like everyone else in District 11, haven’t been able to figure out ways to beat Parkland.

The Trojans swept Liberty in all three of their contests this year during the regular season, EPC tournament and the district championship. Closing the gap is the daily fight Swigart is aiming for with the program.

“I think the gap is certainly closing,” he said. “Every time we play in those big, championship matches we grow as a team. We had a lot of underclassmen who played bigger roles this year and saw time in big matches. That type of experience will help them in future matches. Our JV players and middle school players all attended our playoff matches. Seeing those matches help give them something to strive for and to help continue growing as a program.”

Liberty graduates five seniors, four of which were starters, but Swigart hopes the program continues to grow and keep knocking on that championship door.

“Overall it was a great year for us,” Swigart said. “We overcame a lot as a team and were able to find a way to make it to the district championship for a second straight season. This group of seniors found a way to keep growing and help the team grow with them. We came into the year with some holes that needed to be filled and we had several girls step up into those roles.

“As a program we are growing each year, we have started clinics and camps for kids to get involved playing volleyball at an earlier age. Our middle school programs have gotten bigger numbers at tryouts and the talent level has been growing. We have several returners from our Varsity roster coming back next season, and they are all going to keep working to keep improving so we can start where we finished this year. We had huge support from our community and school during the championship match. It is exciting to see us growing in stature in the community and getting that kind of support.”

Bethlehem Catholic (11-8) saw their season come to an end losing to Central Catholic in three games last week to fall short in the class 3A championship.

The loss snapped Becahi’s streak of three straight district championships, but with a young team at the helm in Gabriella Mineo’s first-season as head coach, the expectation is that the Hawks will be right back in this position contending for a championship next season as well.

Press photo by Mark Kirlin Piper Ruggiero and Keira Metzger of Bethlehem Catholic go up to block a shot during the District 11 finals.
Press photo by Mark Kirlin Lora Flynn and Malena Sabo keep their eye on the ball during the District 11 finals against Parkland last week.